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Scientific Labor Market a 'Pyramid' Problem?

Writing in Miller-McCune, Beryl Lieff Benderly examines "The Real Science Gap," which is not, in fact, in STEM education, she suggests, but instead is in the scientific labor market. This gap, Benderly says, represents a threat to US research prowess, and "troubling indicators suggest that … careers in science, engineering and technology hold less attraction for the most talented young Americans." This is in part because the American scientific labor market represents a "pyramid paradigm," Susan Gerbi, chair of molecular biology at Brown University, tells Miller-McCune. "Like any Ponzi scheme, she [Gerbi] fears, this one will collapse when it runs out of suckers — a stage that appears to be approaching," Benderly writes.

Blogger The Prodigal Academic also discusses "pyramid schemes" and academia in a recent post. She says that while "there are many people who bitterly accuse professors of actively setting one up and/or exploiting their students and postdocs who will 'never get jobs,'" in her opinion, that just doesn’t ring true. "I guess I don't really see much difference between academic job hunting, and job hunting in general," she writes, adding that even at the stage of "undergrad admissions, there are many more qualified people for desirable positions than available slots."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.